Chairman of the Management Board of Lukoil Neftochim refinery Ilshat Sharafutdinov said in an interview that the only refinery in Bulgaria will stop working if the ban on Russian oil is introduced.
Sharafutdinov said that there is an option to seek for oil imports from other countries, but that will take some time. Also, switch to non-Russian oil mixtures will take significant investments. He said that in the first quarter of 2022, 63 % of the processed oil was of Russian origin and the rest were mainly Middle Eastern varieties, but currently 100 % of the oil processed is Russian because the supply of alternative varieties on the Bulgarian market is currently very limited.
He explained that the refinery has experience in refining Middle Eastern and North African oil varieties. The refinery is designed to process oil with medium sulfur content and medium density of the Urals oil type. The optimal efficiency of refining is achieved in the composition of the crude oil, which is composed mainly by Russian Urals oil in a mixture with other varieties.
However, the replacement of the main oil refinery, Urals, with other varieties (of very different quality) can lead to serious shocks: unplanned shutdowns, accelerated corrosion wear of equipment, poisoning of catalyst systems, explosion, fire, accidents with possible environmental consequences. The replacement is also likely to affect the range of products that the refinery produces in addition to fuels, which are of strategic importance to the country as they provide other industries.
Bulgaria requested to be exempted from the proposed sanctions against Russian oil, but the European Commission disagrees that level of dependence on Russian oil for Bulgaria is the same as in other countries who were exempted (Hungary, Slovakia).